Officers from the Shan State Army (SSA) ‘South’ has denied it had anything to do with the 47 assorted weapons seized in Maesai opposite Tachilek, on Tuesday, 26 June.
On that day, a joint military police raiding party swooped down on a house in Maesai, Chiangrai province, where 12 RPG missile launchers, 12 M79 missile launchers, 6 M16 automatic rifles and 17 AK 47 automatic rifles were found.
Sources said the party later raided another house in the evening. The owner Kham aka Pratya Khuenkham was not at home, but the raiding party found some photographs showing him and Lt-Gen Yawdserk, leader of the Restoration Council of Shan State / Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA), the official name for the SSA South, together.
“Daily News (a Thai paper) just rushed in to conclud that Kham was a close associate of our chairman,” one officer told SHAN. “Our chairman is a person of the public. Many want to be photographed with him. Taking photographs with him doesn’t necessarily make them close associates.”
Another source, close to the SSA, agreed. “I have a photograph of myself and the Prime Minister (of Thailand Ms Yingluck Shinawatra) standing side by side. But I doubt she will remember me when we meet again.”
Security sources also believed the seized weapons were bound for one of the People’s Militia Forces (PMFs), paramilitary forces set up by the Burma Army. “The said weapons were to cross the Maesai river (that serves as a boundary between Burma’s Tachilek and Thailand’s Maesai) at a crossing point lying east of both cities,” a senior official explained. “It means these weapons could be for any armed group in Tachilek except the SSA, because it doesn’t have any armed unit in the city. Any consignment for the SSA should be going the Mae Fa Luang way.”
Mae Fa Luang district is located west of Maesai. The SSA’s Loi Gawwan base, a mountainous area, lies opposite Mae Fa Luang.
A businessman in Shan State East told SHAN earlier that gun runners usually favor the PMFs more than the SSA or the United Wa State Army (UWSA), “because both like to order bigger consignments and the SSA usually drives a hard bargain, unlike the PMFs who just pay up in accordance with the price set by the arms smugglers.”